The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

Top stories: State officials visit, bequests

Editor’s note: With 2019 nearly over, the Van Wert independent has again selected its top 10 stories of the year, and will be including those stories through Tuesday, December 31. After a break to celebrate New Year’s Day, the series will continue Thursday, January 2, with a story on possible important news coming in 2020. 

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Top stories for Saturday are Nos. 5 and 6, which deal with visits by state and federal officials and a large financial bequest by longtime local teachers who also made huge contributions to their students over long careers.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria (left) and State Board of Education member Linda Haycock listen as National Door & Trim owner Tom Turnwald (right) talks about his experience with Van Wert High School’s CEO program. CEO student Nathan Bidlack (in red shirt) also talked about his experiences in the program.
VW independent file photo

Top Story No. 6 deals with the large number of top state officials — and even a U.S. Senator — who visited schools, businesses, and other organizations in Van Wert County.

Heading the list was U.S. Senator Rob Portman, who made a visit to Vantage Career Center to discuss career tech programs offered at the school. He also spoke with students and staff during the visit.

Two top state officials also spent time in the county in 2019. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, who was accompanied by State Board of Education member Linda Haycock, visited Van Wert City Schools, Lincolnview Local Schools, and Vantage Career Center in late March.

DeMaria, the top Ohio education official, toured Lincolnview’s new Community Center and later presented the Momentum Award to Lincolnview Elementary School staff during an assembly at the school. The state school officials then visited Van Wert High School, where they spoked with students and staff involved in the Career Education Opportunity (CEO) program.

DeMaria and Haycock also visited businesses participating in the CEO program to get their input on how well the program is working. 

Also in town in December was Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who toured the new Van Wert County Board of Elections offices at 1362 E. Ervin Road and also spent time talking with County Elections Director Linda Stutz, Deputy Director Brenda Weaver, and other staff members.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judy French also spent a day in Van Wert to speak about her position as one of seven Ohio Supreme Court justices.

Top Story No. 5 was about a local couple’s $2 million in bequests to area educational and other institutions.

Earl Gerdeman was a vocational agriculture teacher at Lincolnview Local Schools for 35 years, as well as a lifelong farmer, while his wife, Doris, taught at St. John’s Elementary School in Delphos for many years. In addition to the educational legacy they bequeathed to their students over more than three decades, the couple also provided a financial legacy to three schools, a church foundation, and the Van Wert County Agricultural Society.

The Gerdemans bequeathed $575,000 each to Lincolnview Local Schools and the St. John’s Parish Foundation, $375,000 to Delphos St. John’s Elementary School, and $200,000 each to St. Peter and Paul Church, where Doris Gerdeman went to school, and the Van Wert County Agricultural Society.

Monday: Top Stories No. 3 and 4.

POSTED: 12/28/19 at 12:28 am. FILED UNDER: News